US Portsmouth stand between Binfield and a historic cup final at Wembley Stadium.
The Moles have had the toughest of runs to the semi-finals of the 2020/21 Buildbase FA Vase – not just on the pitch – every opponent they have faced has been an arduous away trip, but so far so good for Binfield.
Standing in the way of Carl Withers and Jamie McClurg’s side making a famous Wembley trip, is Sydenham’s Wessex League Division One side US Portsmouth who, it’s fair to say, shouldn’t be underestimated.
Football in Berkshire spoke to Portsmouth based The News’ Head of Community Sport Simon Carter who said the club were a step 5 side in all but name.
Formed in 1962 as Portsmouth Royal Navy, the club were top of the league and 11 points clear of fifth placed Downton in Division One last season (the FA restructure would have seen the top four promoted) and this season well placed in fourth with games in hand on the sides above them. Both seasons of course were curtailed early.
Carter said: “They are a step 5 club in all but name. They’ve beaten higher division teams in six of their FA Vase ties this season and beat AFC Porchester who were tipped to go far in the competition down here on a tough run.
The Hampshire sides Vase run started back in the Second Qualifying Round and has taken in games against Bournemouth FC Poppies, Brockenhurst, Millbrook, Christchurch, Tavistock and Binfield’s Hellenic League rivals Flackwell Heath.
Carter said he felt the side tired against Christchurch and extra-time possibly would have been a step to far for the team, but the match went straight to penalties and USP won 4-1 in the shootout.
And unlike Binfield, Portsmouth have played all but one of their games at home where the Moles have yet – and won’t – set foot on Hill Farm Lane in the Vase this season.
How they line up and who to watch
USP play a 3-5-2 formation with wing-backs. Carter picked out several players to watch with goalkeeper Tom Price one of the few in a young side that has played step 4 football with Gosport Borough.
Carter described how Flackwell ‘battered’ Portsmouth in the second-half on Saturday but among the players who impressed were centre back and captain Tom Jeffs who played in the middle of the back three as well as the club’s star man James Franklin who scored against the Heathens.
Carter said: “He is the talisman. Going forward he is the man. He ghosts in to positions and leads from an attacking midfield position.
“USP have rarely been tested at step 6 and will be promoted this summer in the restructure. Flackwell were the best side they’ve played on the run, how they withstood that second half onslaught I’ll never know!”
- US Portsmouth vs Flackwell Heath report (via Maidenhead Advertiser)
- The US Portsmouth FA Vase star who gave up playing football for a year (via The News)
- ‘It’s going to be very difficult to calm the younger players down this week’ – US Portsmouth goalkeeper Tom Price (via The News)
The US Portsmouth vs Binfield FC FA Vase semi-final is being live streamed for FREE:
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